NRPA Announces 2017–2018 Board of Directors

Source: National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Leon T. Andrews to serve as chair of the organization 

Ashburn, Va. (July 18, 2017) — The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is proud to announce its new 2017–2018 Board of Directors. Long-time board member, Leon T. Andrews, will serve as chair, welcoming seven new and five re-elected board members at the NRPA Annual ConferenceSept. 26–28, in New Orleans.  

Andrews, who has more than 20 years’ experience working in government, the community, the private sector and academia, is currently the director for Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) at the National League of Cities. Prior to this position, he served as a senior fellow and program director at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education and Families where he led all of the institute’s youth development work with mayors and other municipal leaders around the country. Andrews also served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University. He is a published author, renowned speaker and serves on a number of other national and local boards.

The following five new board members were elected to serve a three-year term:

  • Michael Abbaté, FASLA, director, parks and recreation for the city of Portland
  • Hayden Brooks, chairman, American Realty Corporation
  • Carolyn McKnight, superintendent, Recreation and Park Commission, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
  • Ian Proud, market research and inclusive play manager, PlayPower
  • Xavier Urrutia, director, City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department

Two new board members were appointed to serve a one-year term:

  • Kong Chang, community recreation specialist, City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation
  • Nonet T. Sykes, director, race equity and inclusion, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

These individuals will join forces with the following group of professionals and advocates currently serving on the board:

  • Jesus Aguirre, superintendent, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Leon T. Andrews, Jr., director, Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL), National League of Cities
  • Neelay Bhatt, vice president, PROS Consulting
  • Kevin Coyle, vice president of education, National Wildlife Federation
  • Stephen Eckelberry, technology manager, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association
  • Richard Gulley, board member, Balboa Park Conservancy
  • Roslyn Johnson, deputy director of facility operations, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince Georges County, Maryland
  • Jack Kardys, director, Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department
  • Michael Kelly, general superintendent and CEO, Chicago Park District
  • Karen Bates Kress, park advocate
  • Herman Parker, director, City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department
  • Molly Stevens, CEO and executive director, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
  • Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation                          

“We are proud to have so many talented individuals with strong leadership skills serving on our board,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA president and CEO. “Their combined expertise and passion for parks and recreation will help us achieve our goals — moving the association forward.”

NRPA’s Board of Directors is composed of 15–30 individuals. Board members are representative of NRPA’s membership, which includes leaders in the park, recreation and conservation movement, park and recreation professionals and individuals from corporations, industry suppliers, commercial businesses, and volunteer and civic groups.

To learn more about NRPA’s leadership team, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit

About The National Recreation and Park Association 
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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